Portland defended deep, limited chances early
The Timbers clearly came into the game trying to slow down LAFC’s high-powered attack, and they largely were able to early on. They defended deep, closed down passing lanes quickly, and played their trademark physical style. Despite playing basically their top starting 11, LAFC were unable to generate many chances early on in the game.
Pablo Sisniega made some big time saves in the first half
Portland started to grow more in the game near the end of the first half, and they had two great chances on corner kicks. Both fell to Larrys Mabiala, and both were saved very well by Pablo Sisniega, who has acquitted himself very well since getting regular playing time while Tyler Miller was on international duty with the U.S. Men’s National Team.
Carlos Vela was relatively quiet
From his lofty standards, this was not Carlos Vela’s best game. He spent most of the game on that favored right wing, but he was not able to do his usual damage cutting in and shooting or creating for the other attackers. Portland always kept a man glued to Vela, and frequently double teamed him right when he got the ball. He also took the typical amount of physical challenges against him, which is a lot. Carlos can usually find ways to create space and elude defenders, but tonight just did not seem to be his night.
Jordan Harvey defended well in 1 on 1 situations.. until he didn’t
LAFC did get a lot of men forward, and this lead to dangerous counterattacks by the Portland Timbers. Frequently defenders were left to defend in space 1 on 1, and Jordan Harvey found himself in a few of those situations, especially in the second half. Harvey handled himself really well in those situations, including a few blocks and tackles on Brian Fernandez in particular. But then in the 84th minute Harvey played a ball back to goal directly into the path of Jeremy Ebobisse, who lifted the ball into the corner over Sisniega for the lead. Ebobisse had been in an offside position, but since the ball was played back by Harvey he was not offside. It was a rough moment for a player who had defended so well in the second half.
LAFC’s attack was just not sharp tonight
Some of it was sloppy touches near the box, some was Portland’s physical and defensive play, but LAFC was not able to generate the chances that they usually do, and it was a frustrating night for the Black-and-Gold, not able to have the offensive success that they are so used to having.
A bitter loss for LAFC
LAFC has been so good and won so many games this season. But they took one on the chin Wednesday night, losing a home knockout round game to a team that has already become a bitter rival. This game was reminiscent of the LA Galaxy games, and the playoff game vs. Real Salt Lake last year. This one will sting, and LAFC will have to wait till the end of the season, either for the Supporters’ Shield or the MLS playoffs, for another shot at a trophy.
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